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Old 09-08-2010, 07:22 PM
akimbo gait akimbo gait is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 54
what are the dangers of someone else's knowing your social security number?

i lost my social security card once before.

today, someone who needed my social security number asked me to say it aloud while there was a stranger behind me.

if the stranger committed to memory, what can he do?
also, i lost my social security card once before; what are some possible consequence?
what if the same person has both an expired photo id and my ss card?
Old 09-08-2010, 07:28 PM
campp campp is offline
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 2,872
I don't have an answer except STOP carrying around your SSN. Memorize it.
Old 09-08-2010, 09:02 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
By itself there's not much you can do with it, but used with other ID it can be very powerful.

The nicest thing is so many things are in databases and stored by your social security number. You can pull things so easy if you have the SS#. This is especially important if you're name is John Smith or Jane Doe.

It's also a qualifier for so many things. You know like enter your number, your zip code and the last four digits of your SS#

Last edited by Markxxx; 09-08-2010 at 09:03 PM.
Old 09-08-2010, 09:17 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 27,255
Lots and lots of people have access to your SSN#. I had access to literally millions of them in my last job. The average person couldn't do much with it at all but, as described above, the U.S. doesn't have a national ID number so the SSN is the primary key someone could use to look up other information in systems and do something, something with it. It is a real threat in a way but they can't take cash out of your bank account with it either without several other targeted steps. I think I have gone full circle with most of this. I work in IT positions that require a security clearance and I realize that there are so many people that have access to a given person's information that it becomes hopeless to focus on one thing. You don't have to be an information slut but it is still much easier for a waiter to steal a credit card number than a hacker in Russia for example.
Old 09-08-2010, 09:22 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 35,192
Not so much unless they have already decided to steal your Identity.

But losing your SSN card is very bad as it can take the SocSec 2 months or more to get you a new one, and in that time you can't get a new job, in many cases. Or other stuff. So, keep it very safe.

If the total stranger memorized it- nothing. UNLESS he was standing there with the idea of overhearing SSNs, etc, like at a bank.

Why did that person need you to say it aloud rather than write out part of it?
Old 09-08-2010, 10:56 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 14,538
How can I protect my Social Security number?

You should treat your Social Security number as confidential information and avoid giving it out unnecessarily. You should keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you unless you need to show it to an employer or service provider.

We do several things to protect your number from misuse. For example, we require and carefully inspect proof of identity from people who apply to replace lost or stolen Social Security cards, or for corrected cards. One reason we do this is to prevent people from fraudulently obtaining Social Security numbers to establish false identities. We maintain the privacy of Social Security records unless:
  • The law requires us to disclose information to another government agency; or
  • Your information is needed to conduct Social Security or other government health or welfare program business.
You should be very careful about sharing your number and card to protect against misuse of your number. Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask:
  • Why your number is needed;
  • How your number will be used;
  • What happens if you refuse; and
  • What law requires you to give your number.
The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours.
(Bolding and emphasis mine.)
Old 09-09-2010, 06:07 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,714
A malicious person with your SSN alone won't be able to do much. They can't, for example, access your current bank accounts (though with other personal information and some good social engineering they might). A bigger threat is that they can simply open up new accounts in your name, as long as they've got enough of your personal information to fill out a credit application. So they now have a credit card or loan in your name and a probably bogus address. They get as much money out as they can, and then just disappear. Well, now there's a loan in default that's attached to YOUR credit report, and collection agencies will track YOU down.

However, you can dispute such debts and get them wiped from your credit history, though sometimes that's not easy.
Old 09-09-2010, 07:34 AM
sevenwood sevenwood is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 1,345
Originally Posted by lazybratsche View Post
A bigger threat is that they can simply open up new accounts in your name, as long as they've got enough of your personal information to fill out a credit application. So they now have a credit card or loan in your name and a probably bogus address. They get as much money out as they can, and then just disappear. Well, now there's a loan in default that's attached to YOUR credit report, and collection agencies will track YOU down.
That's basically what happened to my wife. Our cleaning lady got hold of my wife's social security number, got a bunch of store credit cards in my wife's name (but using her own street address and telephone number), purchased stuff and had it delivered to her own house, and defaulted on the payments. My wife didn't even know about it until she tried to get a new credit card, got turned down, and discovered that her credit score was abysmal because of the above.

It took her forever to get her credit cleared, even though all of the bad credit marks were clearly associated with the cleaning lady's address.

Last edited by sevenwood; 09-09-2010 at 07:34 AM.
Old 09-09-2010, 07:53 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 11,552
Do you really need to show your ss card to get a job or anything else? I have been asked many times for my ss# (most recently in 1997 when I got a month's expenses from Stanford), but I have never been asked to show the card. In fact, I have no idea where it is. The number is firmly committed to memory. The card was a wallet-sized card of which the only thing I remember is that it said, "Not for identification purposes". That was around 1950.
Old 09-09-2010, 08:15 AM
glowacks glowacks is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1,713
When you get a job in the US, you need to know your SSN and be able to prove that you are legally able to work here. However, the card is only one possible document that proves work eligibility; I have always used my passport instead. There are lots of other documents listed on the last page of that can be used as well.

I however did need my social security card when my family was working with a lawyer to try to get me Social Security disability benefits. In that case I needed to show precisely that I was part of the Social Security system, and apparently just knowing the number was not enough. I had absolutely no idea where my card was, and it wasn't in any of the places is reasonably might have been (one of which was the envelope it was originally mailed in, which was in the safety deposit box, but the card wasn't there), so I needed to apply for a replacement.


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